Question

Allison asks: “This question has haunted me for a while now. I believe that all mankind is descended from two human beings: Adam and Eve. But I cannot explain the vastly different races. If Mankind is descended from two people, how can there be so many great differences in racial features? Thanks so much, and God bless you guys!”

Great question! I’m actually excited to answer it because it’s part of my particular area of study: Biology. You might be surprised at the answer. Let me first state that I share your view on the origin of all mankind: two people—Adam and Eve.

Definitions

Before we get going, it is important we start with the definition of “race.” As we will see later, this definition is crucial in understanding why there are so many variations in human appearance.

Answers in Genesis gives a particularly interesting definition of race that sheds some light on its origin:

"Darwinian evolution was (and still is) inherently a racist philosophy, teaching that different groups 
or “races” of people evolved at different times and rates, so some groups are more like their apelike ancestors than others. Leading evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould claimed, “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory."1

The term “race,” then, means a particular group of humans that has evolved at a different rate or time than another group of humans. It should therefore be apparent that “race” is very much a (macro-)evolutionary term.

What Does the Bible Say about “Race”?

With the definition of “race” in place, what does the Bible say about these different “races”? The Bible is actually quite clear on the subject, and considering the evolutionary background of the definition of the word “race” it shouldn’t come as any surprise. It clearly states there aren’t any! Consider Acts 17:24-16 (KJV):

24God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;”

Verse 26 clearly states that God made all the nations of men out “of one blood”. This would make sense as Adam and Eve were the first created humans and thus all humankind must’ve descended from them. That means Biblically speaking there aren’t any different races since God created all people from the same two, original ancestors.

But if there aren’t any “races” Biblically, then what accounts for all of the differences among humans?

Quite literally the answer is a bunch of “hooblah”—specifically the mixing up of languages that occurred at the Tower of Babel.

Dr. Ken Ham, (bachelors in Applied Science with an emphasis on environmental biology, three honorary doc
torates in Divinity, Literature, and Letters)—founder and President of Answers in Genesis—made the following observation (brackets mine):

"Because of the new language and geographic barriers [as a result of the confusion at the Tower of Babel], the groups no longer freely mixed with other groups, and the result was a splitting of the gene pool. Different cultures formed, with certain features becoming predominant within each group. The characteristics of each became more and more prominent as new generations of children were born. If we were to travel back in time to Babel, and mix up the people into completely different family groups, then people groups with completely different characteristics might result. For instance, we might find a fair-skinned group with tight, curly dark hair that has blue, almond-shaped eyes. Or a group with very dark skin, blue eyes, and straight brown hair. Some of these (skin color, eye shape, and so on) became general characteristics of each particular people group through various selection pressures (environmental, sexual, etc.) and/or mutation."1

What Dr. Ham is saying is that at the Tower of Babel, people groups split off and their genetic code began being repeated over and over—thus resulting in groups of people who have a predominate characteristic. You may say that this view would assume that different groups (white, black, light brown, etc.) would have to have already existed and you would be correct in saying so. Dr. Ham before explained that Noah’s family had much to do with the initial causing of these various groups:

"
Those with darker skin tend to live in warmer climates, while those with lighter skin tend to live in colder climates. Why are certain characteristics more prominent in some areas of the world? We know that Adam and Eve were the first two people. Their descendants filled the earth. However, the world’s population was reduced to eight during the Flood of Noah. From these eight individuals have come all the tribes and nations. It is likely that the skin shade of Noah and his family was middle brown. This would enable his sons and their wives to produce a variety of skin shades in just one generation. Because there was a common language and everybody lived in the same general vicinity, barriers that may have prevented their descendants from freely intermarrying weren’t as great as they are today. Thus, distinct differences in features and skin color in the population weren’t as prevalent as they are today."1

Long story short, then, here is how there are differences among humans: Noah’s family’s genes would’ve allowed for a plethora of different combinations of the features of his decedents within a few generations. When God split up the people of the Earth at the Tower of Babel, it took those already specialized groups and caused them to inbreed so-to-speak. The people that ended up with the same language began living in their respective language-groups and began to intermarry. This reinforced the characteristics of those groups causing them to become more and more prominent and different from the other groups since access to rest of the gene pool of other features had been cut off by language. That’s why there are so many differences between humans (skin color, eye shape, etc.).

I will note however, that there is still not very much difference between humans genetically even today. The difference between any two people (even within a certain ethnic group) is in the order of 0.2%.1 If you look at specifically “racial” characteristics such as eye shape and skin color, the statistic goes down to 0.012%.1

Conclusion

In finality, then, the reason so many “races” exist is because of the Flood as well as the Tower of Babel. I will end by agreeing with Human Genome project that, “there is only one race—the human race.”1

God bless,
Robert A. Rowlett

Bibliography
1See http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/are-there-different-races

 


Comments

Alexandra
08/18/2011 5:56pm

Good question and good response! I used to wonder about that issue, too, until I wrote a paper on the origin of people groups. It's actually quite biologically possible to have the all the skin color shades that we see today, if Adam and Eve had brown skin.

Reply
08/19/2011 1:42am

Alexandra,

Very good! This is another great example of how Science and the Bible can go together and compliment one another. Thanks for the encouraging words!

God bless,
Robert A. Rowlett

Reply
Mike
07/13/2012 2:37pm

I did not see here any rational answer on that question.
The answer is EVOLUTION. Any religion is FICTION.

Reply
07/13/2012 5:28pm

This post took the Bible to be true as a presupposition. The statement "Any religion is fiction" does not carry with it any warrant for belief. If you would like to provide legitimate reasons for atheism, please do so--otherwise leave out the emotional prescriptivism.

Also, the statement "The answer is evolution" I assume is meant to say that evolution replaces God as an answer to the difference in races. The answer is that you are correct in the microevolutionary sense. As implied by what I wrote above, microevolution was definitely at work in the development of the different "races" of the earth.

As to whether evolution replaces God as an answer to life itself, that is absurd. Evolution describes the process by which life might have come to exist--it does not say anything to about why life exists rather than life not existing (which the odds of life existing are extremely improbable, but yet it does) and it also says nothing about the beginning of the universe. At best evolution makes implications about how God might have created--not if God created. Thus evolution has never been and never will be a true objection to belief in God.

I direct you to my post "Christianity vs. Secularism" for an in-depth discussion about why I espouse theism and specifically Christian theism: http://coherentfaithapologetics.weebly.com/1/post/2011/05/christianity-vs-secularism.html.

God bless,
Robert A. Rowlett

Reply
Ayinde
02/06/2013 9:59pm

I find it quite hard to rationalize the answer given to the question, though it was very interesting. This flood was to have happened lets say, 7,000 years ago which I believe is the Christian answer for about when creation took place. So how on Earth do you explain the mass transition from all forms of life being centralized in Noahs arc to spreading thousands of miles to their respective places. Did all the pairs of each of animal just float to their respective places across the waters? How would snakes, lizards, and bears appear all over the world from being in one place and being just two of them to start? How would Kangaroos, Koala bears, etc. ever make it to Australia? How would Lemurs make it to Madagascar? And don't even get me started on how insects could have ever made it. If you can answer that then I'd also like to know how God inspired word says the Earth has corners? Spherical masses can't be described with corners. But the people who claimed to be inspired by God wrote the bible and didn't know that at the time that Earth didn't have edges and wasn't flat. Also what rational being doesn't spread his word to Africa, India, N. & South America and just Europe? Gods not all to bright if he forgot that Native Americans never heard the word of the lord while apparently they just died and went to hell till the Missionaries came by. I mean, really?

Reply
07/18/2012 1:05am

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Reply
07/18/2012 11:09pm

Thank you for the encouraging words! I will definitely continue to post on this site. I'm glad people out there are interested in what I have to write.

God bless,
Robert Rowlett

Reply
07/20/2012 5:45pm

I actually enjoyed reading this internet site, this is wonderful blog.

Reply

Your article is very interesting. I enjoyed reading your article. I think you deserve to be a reference article for the readers. thank you, a fantastic article ......

Reply
unknown
01/09/2013 12:20am

To bad Christianity isn't real. Buddha is the best!

Reply
01/09/2013 12:41pm

What compels you to accept Buddha over Christ as the best explanation for reality?

Reply
Stephanie
03/11/2013 11:12pm

Forgive me if i step on your your toes. I am a Christian, and i accept that there are some things we may never have answers to. I won't be swayed by other peoples skepticism. But i do believe that Ayinde has raised some valid questions, particularly regarding the ark. I feel they deserve to be addressed. So, if i may ask, why haven't they been?

Reply
03/12/2013 3:27am

Setphanie,

My apologies, I had not seen Ayinde's post. I will respond line-by-line:


"...lets say, 7,000 years ago which I believe is the Christian answer for about when creation took place. So..."

This is not universally agreed upon. I am not espousing belief in evolution, but be aware that most academic Christian scholars do not adhere to a young earth view of Genesis.

"...how on Earth do you explain the mass transition from all forms of life being centralized in Noahs arc to spreading thousands of miles to their respective places. Did all the pairs of each of animal just float to their respective places across the waters? How would snakes, lizards, and bears appear all over the world from being in one place and being just two of them to start? How would Kangaroos, Koala bears, etc. ever make it to Australia? How would Lemurs make it to Madagascar? And don't even get me started on how insects could have ever made it...."

Many scientists believe that the Earth's continents were previously all joined into one giant one--Pangea. Thus, it would be easy for the various animals to make their way to the respective "corners of the earth" because all the different land parts of the Earth would have been connected. Also, insects have extremely fast reproductive rates--out of all the organisms you listed they would actually be the most likely to survive.

"...If you can answer that then I'd also like to know how God inspired word says the Earth has corners? Spherical masses can't be described with corners. But the people who claimed to be inspired by God wrote the bible and didn't know that at the time that Earth didn't have edges and wasn't flat..."

The objective seems to render no negative effective upon the Christian faith if true. Even if one assumes that the authors of the OT did know the earth was round and decided to write that it had corners, what would that prove? Nothing of consequence really. We use such terminology in the modern age all of the time.

The real answer to this, however, is that the Bible, while inspired by God, was written through human authors that at that time would have no conception that the Earth was spherical. Thus, it is foolish to charge them with misinformation when they were just using what was available to them: their eyesight and perception that the horizon looked square.

"...Also what rational being doesn't spread his word to Africa, India, N. & South America and just Europe? Gods not all to bright if he forgot that Native Americans never heard the word of the lord while apparently they just died and went to hell till the Missionaries came by. I mean, really?"

You contradict here what you said earlier. If you believe that "7,000 years ago...is the Christian answer for about when creation took place..." then you cannot argue that Noah did not go preach to peoples in Africa, India, and North and South America--such people didn't live yet on your view. If the Flood is true, Noah and his family were the only humans on earth and thus there was no one to be preached to. In addition, such places as Africa, India, and North and South America would not have existed--the would have been part of Pangea. Even further than that, as has been mentioned previously, even if such places did exist and had people living there, the authors of the Bible would not have known. It wasn't until 1492, thousands of years later, that even just North America was discovered and the earth proven to be round. Thus, it is again foolish to charge the authors of the Bible with misconduct for not preaching to a place they didn't know existed yet.

Also, it is not clear in ancient history when the Native Americans made it to the Americas, thus one cannot necessarily argue that they just died without knowing--if they came from some central place in Europe and migrated to the Americas, then their ancestors would have likely heard the Gospel message (or interacted with Israel, if it was before Christ's coming) before they left and consequently it was their people's fault for not listening to the message.

One last point that is worth of mentioning: the Bible and human preaching is not the only way for one to come to believe in and be accepted by God. One can deduce God's existence through observation of the physical world as Paul recorded (Romans 1:20-21).

I hope this clarifies what you were asking about, Ayinde and to you as well, Stephanie!

God bless,
Robert A. Rowlett

Reply
Judyth smith
04/10/2013 12:22am

Mr Rowlett,
Thank you for your research & a great article reaffirming my belief that we, no matter what color or what size, we are all still only one species, we are all Homo sapiens- All Humans!

Reply
04/10/2013 1:38am

Thank you!

God bless,
Robert A. Rowlett

Reply
unknown
08/28/2013 6:26pm

I think the bible is still a puzzling mystery in itself. Most read yet not studied as much as it should be. Evreything in it seems to be a metaphor of some sort....relating to science perhaps and encoded with the fundamental laws of existence of life as we know it. If the literal meaning is taken as seen then we are just fooling ourselves. I believe there is a God, which we will never understand just as we will never fully understand science, we can manipulate it but never understand.

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08/28/2013 11:15pm

Remember that the Bible is just a compilation of separate documents. Most of the Bible is recorded history and as such definitely should be (and is) taken literally.

I do not think any human will ever *fully* understand God in this life, but we certainly can know things about God. To use your illustration, humanity certainly does not know all there is to know about science, but we know certain things to be true and other things to be false about science. For example, mankind may not know all there is to know about electricity, but we definitely know that it does not mix with water. In the same way, we do not know all there is to know about God's goodness and perfectness, but we know He does not mix with sin. So while God is not fully comprehensible in this life, enough can be known about Him in order to beckon each of us to respond to Him. We know He is loving, powerful, creative, and sovereign among other things.

Food for thought!

God bless,
Robert A. Rowlett

Reply
unknown
08/29/2013 1:19am

I appreciate your point of view, interesting you mention God can not mix with sin, What is sin? do we really understand the concept of sin? is it because there is so much of what we describe as "sin" in this world that there is an absence of God in it? Does God exist in a timeless dimension? Can we as spiritual beings tap into this timeless dimension by being sinless? Back to the bible and the initial topic of discussion, why are they so many different races if we decended from 2 people, What if we never decended from two people but from 2 fundamental things that influence the laws of the universe like for example "time" & "space". And races have come about because of the influences from the environment.
I keep going back to science because I believe there is a connection somewhere. :)

Something to think about
Cheers

Reply
08/29/2013 2:30am

I believe sin *not* to be an existential reality--that is to say that sin is not something of itself but the absence of something, namely righteousness. The Bible teaches that all of mankind is fallen (see Romans 3:23 for example) and thereby sin everywhere in this world, you are correct.

As to where God exists, it is generally accepted among theologians that God exists outside of time and space--so one could refer to that as "another dimension" with the understanding that this "other dimension" is not of our reality of our time and space but outside of it. I do not believe we as humans tap (or even have the ability to tap) into this dimension because: 1) we do not become sinless when we are saved by the blood of Jesus and 2) even if we could, God has chosen to interact with us, not us with him (concepts such as this can be found in verses such as 1 John 4:19).

The way in which God might have created life has no bearing on if there is a God. If God created through evolution and through the laws of physics and "time" and "space," it would still be the case that God was Creator. I too believe there is a deep-seated connection between Science and Faith. If God has authored both Creation and the Bible, then the two should not conflict. I hope you find Jesus in your journey. If you really dive into the Bible and the evidence for the veracity of the Christian faith, I hope you find it to be as rock solid as I have.

Good thoughts indeed. :) You have an interesting perspective on things.

God bless,
Robert A. Rowlett

Reply
ivan flores
01/04/2014 11:20am

I want to add an interesting point to your answer on how race came about. From what I understood interbreading was an essential part of shaping different typse of people right. So why is it that inbreeding now days is said to be wrong and unhealthy.

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Marcia Vieira
01/16/2014 7:51pm

Dear Robert,

May God bless you for all your serious effort to help people believe the word of God.Some people simply cant believe and might be aggressive towards believers.It is so comforting to believe and one day,before God, we will all have our confirmations.May God enrich our Faith in his Word , help others who are willing to believe and help others who are willing to make us unbelieve,to either believe too or let us keep our faith respectfully.
Thank you once again!
Marcia

Reply
Sheila
01/19/2014 10:03pm

Dear Robert,
Just wondering what your thoughts are on where Cain's wife came from.
Thank you.

Reply



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